Anthuriums are known for their beautiful brightly colored waxy flowers and Alocasia for their striking foliage. Both these plants do well indoors and are showpieces within any home. So what are the differences between these two lovely plants?
Anthuriums are herbaceous perennials with heart-shaped leaves and brightly colored spathes. They can reach 1 to 2 feet (0.3-0.6 m) at maturity. These plants prefer well-draining soil and moderate water.
Alocasia is a tuberous perennial with large, broad, arrowhead-shaped leaves and white or green spathes. They’re fast-growing and can grow 2 to 6 feet (0.6-1.8 m) tall. They thrive best in soil that has a good balance between water retention and drainage.
While Anthurium and Alocasia plants are attractive houseplants, they are two very diverse plant species. These differences are explained in the article below, so read on!
Overview: Anthurium Vs. Alocasia
The common name for the Anthurium plant is the flamingo flower or lace-leaf plant. Alocasia is commonly named the elephant ear plant (related to Colocasia plants, also known as the elephant ear plant).
These two plant groups have several species with different native habitats.
Anthurium Plant Species
Anthurium spp. is a genus of about 1,000 species of herbaceous perennials from the Araceae family. This tropical plant is native to the Americas, from northern Mexico and Argentina and parts of the Caribbean.
The most common species available in the US is Anthurium andreanum. Anthuriums grow well in containers and flourish as indoor houseplants.
Alocasia Plant Species
Alocasia spp. is a genus of about 97 species of tuberous or rhizomatous perennials from the Araceae or Aroid family. This herbaceous perennial is native to tropical and subtropical Asia and eastern Australia. However, a wide range of hybrids and cultivars are globally cultivated.
The most common species of Alocasia available in the US is Alocasia amazonica ‘Polly’. Alocasia plants make good houseplants and will flourish in favorable conditions.
The Differences Between Anthurium and Alocasia
Although Anthuriums and Alocasias belong to the same family, these two plant genera have distinct characteristics physically and physiologically.
Below, I’ll discuss some of the major differences in terms of appearance and growth requirements:
The Plant’s Leaf
The color and shape of the leaves of Anthurium and Alocasia plants differ a lot, even among those that belong in the same genus.
The leaves of the Anthurium plant are usually heart-shaped and green in color. Younger leaves are often lighter in color than older leaves.
Some varieties have reddish-colored or lovely eye-catching white vein-patterned leaves. Other types have oval, elongated, or spatula-shaped leaves.
The leaf of the Alocasia is upright, dark green in color, and arrowhead to heart-shaped. They are large (8-36 inches or 20-91 cm long) and broad and resemble elephant ears.
Some varieties have wavy-edged leaves, and others are adorned with white veins on their leaves. The veins can either be thin or thick, and some varieties resemble large scales.
Anthurium and Alocasia have spathe-like flowers that are different in color and shape.
Anthurium flowers come in colors of striking red, pink, orange, salmon, white, purple, yellow, and multi-colored. The beautiful flower grows on long slender stems and looks like it’s made of wax or plastic. These flowers look stunning and elegant as cut flowers placed in a tall vase.
But an Anthurium’s flower is not a flower at all!
It is a large heart-shaped curved spathe that enfolds a protruding white and yellow straight spike-shaped spadix flower, which is quite unusual and very beautiful. These flowers typically bloom between 2 to 3 months in the right conditions.
Alocasia plants rarely bloom indoors, but they might produce a flower if they receive the perfect growing conditions. The flower, typical of an aroid, is a white or green-colored spathe surrounding a white or cream spadix.
These flowers bloom in spring and summer. Although this plant does flower, Alocasia is grown and admired for its beautiful foliage rather than its flower.
Height and Growth Rate
Anthuriums are slow to grow, whereas Alocasia plants are fast-growers.
The stalk of the Anthurium is thick and, when matured, has a woody-like stem. This plant can grow to a height of 1 to 2 feet (31 to 61 cm). Anthuriums are slow to moderate growers if placed in their favored growing conditions.
The flamingo flower plant will grow in a cycle of three months of flowering with 2 to 3 months of no flowers and then continue again with three months of flowering.
On the other hand, with their strong stems and huge elephant-shaped leaves, Alocasia plants can reach a height of 2-6 feet (61-183 cm), depending on the species. This plant is a fast grower, and in ideal conditions, large plants will produce one or two new leaves a month.
Younger plants may grow a little slower. Elephant ear plants may produce flowers if they grow in perfect conditions, but this is not very likely.
Both Anthurium and Alocasia plants like acidic soil, so keep the pH between 5.5 and 6.5. However, there’s a slight difference in the texture and moisture retention capacity of their preferred substrates.
Anthuriums thrive in coarse and loose soil that can be well-drained. A store-bought potting mix, preferably an orchid potting mix, is a good fit for this plant. For better drainage, add some perlite or pumice, coconut husks, and perlite.
Alocasia plants require well-aerated loose organic soil with added peat moss and perlite. An ideal potting mix is houseplant soil that holds moisture and promotes good drainage. Alocasia plants love moist soil but cannot survive in damp, soggy conditions.
Temperature and Humidity
An Anthurium plant requires temperatures between 65 and 90 °F (18 and 32 °C). Therefore, it is best to keep the flamingo flower plant away from cold drafts and blasts from the aircon, heaters, or vents that will influence the temperature level in the room.
This plant thrives in humid conditions of 60 to 80% humidity. If the humidity drops below this, the flamingo flower plant will need regular misting, or it could be placed on a humidity-enhancing pebble tray with a bit of water.
Meanwhile, Alocasia plants thrive in temperatures between 60 and 80 °F (15.5 and 27 °C). These plants do not like fluctuation in temperatures so keep them away from cold drafts, heaters, and vents.
Keep the humidity for this plant at 50 to 60%. Since the air in residential homes might be too dry, you may need to use a room humidifier to regulate the humidity, or the plant can be placed on a pebble tray with water.
Both Anthurium and Alocasia plant groups prefer bright but indirect light, but one group can be a bit fussier about its light requirements.
Anthuriums grow well in bright and indirect light. A good spot for these plants is a sunny area near a window.
They don’t like direct sunlight but can tolerate the gentle morning sun. You can hang a sheer curtain in front of the window if there is too much light.
In contrast, Alocasia plants are rather fussy about the amount of light they need daily. They need 6 to 8 hours of bright but indirect sunlight every day. They can also thrive in medium light, which is better than scorching bright light.
Therefore, it’s best to place them about 3.3 feet (1 m) away from a southern or eastern window. A sheer curtain will also be beneficial to shield your plant from the midday sun if placed close to a southern window.
Anthuriums that grow in pots need regular watering but still be mindful not to overwater the plant. Flamingo flower plants need watering twice a week during summer and once a week during the cold season.
Always feel the soil before watering the plant. Only water if the first inch (2.5 cm) of the soil is dry.
On the other hand, Alocasias are water-loving plants and prefer their soil to be moist all the time but not soggy. Since their preferred soil mix holds more water than Anthuriums, Alocasias require weekly watering sessions in the summer months.
During winter, water them when the upper 2 inches (5 cm) of the soil is dry. Always drain the drip tray after each watering session so the plant does not stand in water.
The flamingo flower plant doesn’t need a lot of fertilizing. However, fertilizing will boost the plant’s spathe to blossom.
Liquid fertilizer with phosphorous and a ratio of 1:2:1 is best for producing a healthy spadix. You can also opt for a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer for the plant’s overall health.
Anthuriums require fertilizing three times a year using a slow-release fertilizer at a quarter strength to prevent over-fertilizing. Note that they don’t need fertilizing during the winter months.
Alocasia plants require fertilizing once a month during spring and summer. An all-purpose indoor fertilizer (20-20-20) at half strength is best.
Before applying the fertilizer, make sure the soil is damp to avoid fertilizer burn. It is not necessary to fertilize the Alocasia plant during the winter months.
Anthuriums are herbaceous, and Alocasias are tuberous plants, both from the Araceae family. These plants have spathe-like flowers. Anthurium flowers are brightly colored, while Alocasia’s are white or green.
The shapes and colors of the leaves of these plants vary depending on the species. However, the leaves of the Anthurium are mostly heart-shaped and solid green. In contrast, the leaves of the Alocasia are long and upright, arrowhead-shaped, resembling elephant ears.
Both plants make good houseplants and prefer warm temperatures, humid conditions, and indirect light for optimal growth.